High protein diets reduce serving sizes and carbohydrate intake, making them ideal for weight loss and heart health. But according to a scientific review in Nutrition & Metabolism, protein foods laced with fat might actually harm your health. If you’re searching for filling alternatives to fatty meats, look no further. Here is a list of protein-packed food that all benefit our bodies in their own way. From bread to veggies, meat to soy products, discover filling dishes that may also lower blood sugar, increase energy, and decrease inflammation. They’re all package deals!
Quinoa The Super Grain
Quinoa is a grain plant which produces seeds that we can cook. Unlike wheat and rice, it is not a grass, but a botanic related to spinach. With eight grams of protein per cup, it provides much more protein than an average side dish.
Although technically a seed, quinoa classifies as a gluten-free whole grain. Harvard Public School of Health reports that quinoa is rich in phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese. Research from 2018 highlights that quinoa has lower carbs and higher fiber than refined wheat bread.
Lentils Satisfy With Smaller Servings
A type of plant-based legume, lentils contain around 18 grams of protein per cup. 2012 research reveals that their high protein content makes people feel fuller after eating less, which contributes to weight loss. A 2013 food chemical study on lentils illustrates that they stabilize blood sugars, making them a potential anti-diabetic.
Lentils have a lower quality of fat, sodium and vitamin K, but have high potassium, iron, and fiber. Because 26% of their calories come from protein, they can increase energy and satiation from a meal.
Cottage Cheese, The Leanest Protein-est Cheese
Of all the cheeses valued for their high protein, cottage cheese contributes the lowest fat and calories. It contains large amounts of casein protein that helps people feel fuller for longer. One cup contains 27 grams of protein. The recommended serving size is only 1/2 cup, coming out to 100 calories.
Researchers who published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed over 220,00 people over 26 years to learn the health benefits of cheeses, including cottage. They determined that occasionally replacing meat with cheese lowered one’s risk of heart disease.
Even If You Hated It As A Kid, Broccoli Will Fill You Up
While these mini trees may haunt the plates of kids everywhere, they actually provide a ton of protein and nutrients with few calories. One cup of broccoli has 3 grams of protein and significant amounts of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. The International Journal Of Food Sciences and Nutrition published research suggesting that broccoli lowered inflammation in smokers.
2009 research in the Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B indicates that cooking broccoli can decrease the number of soluble sugars and vitamin C in broccoli, although steaming does not alter the vitamin C content.
Ezekiel Bread–Not Your Average Slice Of Bread
Ezekiel bread, also called sprouted grain bread, differs from most other breads in that it’s composed of barley, spelt, millet, wheat, soybeans, and lentils. This combination makes it very high in fiber and protein. One slice contains 4 grams of protein in just 80 calories.
Sprouted grain bread also offers high fiber, sodium, and potassium. One study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry confirms that Ezekiel bread’s composition increases its antioxidant count and makes it easier to digest.
Chicken Breast, The Protein Powerhouse
Chicken breast is one of the more popular protein-rich dishes, adding up to 53 grams of protein. In 2015, Food & Nutrition Research noted that this “high quality” protein source varies in nutrients based on breast vs. thighs, and skin vs. no skin. In general, keeping the skin on increases the chicken’s fat and calorie count by around 30%.
The research also emphasizes that chicken provides “the ideal dietary source of vitamin B12.” Sodium in chicken hardly impacts one’s diet. The ideal size of chicken adds up to 3-4 oz, about the size of a deck of playing cards.
Lean Beef Provides Healthy Protein With No Cholesterol Increase
Many believe that consuming red meat will increase cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. But a review of 54 studies published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes that lean beef, trimmed of visible fat, actually reduces cholesterol and provides protein, omega-3s, zinc, iron, and vitamin B12.
One ounce of cooked lean beef contains 22 grams of protein in under 200 calories. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the serving size for active adults is 3-4 ounces, while those who aren’t physically active require 5-6.5 ounces of lean beef.
Tempeh, The Filling Digestion-Improving Goldmine
Tempeh is a soy product originating from Indonesia, similar to tofu. However, it contributes 40% more protein than tofu does: 31 grams per one cup. Scientists examined tempeh and recorded their findings in the Polish Journal of Microbiology; they discovered that tempeh is rich in prebiotics, which improves digestion and absorption.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition included a trial in 2014 that explained that people who eat soy-based products and those who eat meat products both experience similar appetite control effective for weight loss. If you’re looking to replace meat, try adding one-half cup of tempeh to a dish.
That Avocado Toast Trend Had A Point
You may want to start slicing up some avocado if you want more protein in your meals. One cup of sliced avocado contains 5 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. So far, seven different studies have analyzed avocado’s monounsaturated fats and found that they can lower cholesterol levels, contributing to a healthy diet. They even have more potassium than bananas.
Avocados also provide vitamin C and antioxidants that can improve eye health. One serving equates to one-third of a medium avocado, or one-half of a small avocado, adding up to 80 calories.
Oats And Oatmeal: A Gluten-Free Protein Option
Oatmeal will fill you up for a reason. Half a cup of raw oats equates to 13 grams of protein. A 2015 review in the Journal of Food Science and Technology reports that oat has a unique protein composition that differs from other cereals, allowing its nutritional content to consist of 11-15% protein.
Oats are also gluten-free and contain healthy fiber. For maximum health benefits, you’ll want to eat unprocessed oatmeal. One serving size adds up to 1/2 cup of rolled oats cooked in one cup of water.
Greek Yogurt (Different From Regular Yogurt)
Also called strained yogurt, Greek yogurt carries low fat and many nutrients that make it a good source of protein. One 6 oz container of non-fat Greek yogurt offers 17 grams of protein and only 100 calories.
Greek yogurt contains less liquid whey because it is strained. The thicker concentration gives it a higher protein content, but slightly less calcium, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. One study that followed over 120,000 people for up to 20 years suggests that yogurt consumption protected them from weight gain due to its healthy bacteria and protein content.
Go Nuts For Protein!
Nuts have a high protein content, namely almonds, pistachios, and cashews. A 2017 systematic review on nuts and human health reports that eating nuts as a snack reduces blood sugar and strengthens the heart. In general, one ounce of nuts comes out to six grams of protein.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, nuts contain healthy fats and high amounts of vitamin E and B. The serving size of nuts equates to about a handful, or 1.5 oz (1/3 cup) according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Eggs, Highly Debated, But Still Healthy
Eggs and egg whites consist of almost entirely of protein. One egg gives you six grams of protein. Although eggs have been vilified for their high cholesterol, new research suggests eating eggs in moderation can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Dr. Frank Hu of Harvard University notes that eating a healthy, balanced diet can involve eggs as a breakfast option. Eggs provide a healthier breakfast substitute for low-protein foods like cereal. One egg contains about 5 grams of monounsaturated fats (also called healthy fats) and 200 mg of cholesterol.
Whey Protein Supplements Can Build Muscle Mass
Whey is a type of high-quality protein and a byproduct of cheesemaking. You can buy supplemental whey powders to build muscle and help with weight loss. Although the protein content varies by brand, most contain a whopping 20-50 grams of protein per serving.
In 2017, a study in the journal Nutrients reported that habitually taking whey protein supplements after resistance training (such as weight lifting) enhanced the whole body net protein, which increased lean muscle mass. If you’re looking to strengthen your muscles, you may want to take this supplement after exercising.
Milk Contributes To Other Health Than Just Bones
Unfortunately, about 65% of the human population develops lactose intolerance throughout their life. Even so, milk supplies excellent nutrients and protein. Just one cup of milk provides 8 grams worth of protein. Drinking milk also gives you more calcium and vitamin B2.
In Food & Nutrition Research, scientists reported that higher milk intake in children resulted in less childhood obesity. The research also suggests that milk lowers one’s risk of diabetes, stroke, and several cancers.
Pumpkin Seeds, The Most Protein-Packed Seed
Seeds have long been revered as great sources of zinc, fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants. But pumpkin seeds, in particular, provide a substantial amount of protein–5 grams per ounce, to be exact. These seeds also contain a strong amount of vitamin K, iron, and magnesium.
In 2011, a 12-week study on postmenopausal women found that pumpkin seed supplements reduced their blood pressure by 7% and promoted healthy cholesterol by 16%. The shelled seeds also provide 1.1 grams of fiber per ounce, which can help weight loss.
Turkey Breast, The Lean Mean Thanksgiving Machine
Thanksgiving dinner fills you up quickly for a reason. A three-ounce serving of turkey breast contains 25 grams of protein. According to Harvard Health Publishing, turkey meat supplies an amino acid called arginine that creates new proteins in the body.
Dark meat and turkey skin have more saturated fats and vitamins than white meat, plus more calories. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also reports that turkey meat supplies vitamin B6, vitamin B12, niacin, choline, and zinc.
Brussels Sprouts Fill You With Most Of Your Daily Vitamin C
In the same family as broccoli, we have brussels sprouts, another high-protein vegetable. They’re also rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. Half a cup of brussels sprouts come out to 2 grams of protein and 81% of your daily vitamin C needs.
Participants in a three-week 1995 study displayed lower oxidative stress when eating brussels sprouts consistently, meaning that the vegetable has strong antioxidants. A couple of studies have supported the vegetable’s cancer-fighting properties as well.
Any And All Fish Supply Lean Protein
In 2013, researchers posted their findings in The British Journal of Nutrition as they studied using fish as the primary protein source for 34 overweight adults. Over eight weeks, all the participants’ glucose levels dropped, and they lost weight. This may contribute to fish’s high protein–19 grams of protein per 3 ounces–and high amount of heart-healthy omega-3s.
Tuna contains the most protein of any fish, with shrimp coming in second. The recommended serving sizes vary by type of fish, but most cooked fish add up to six ounces per serving for an average adult (eight ounces for uncooked fish).
Black Beans’ Protein Can Aid Weight Loss
Black beans are an inexpensive, quickly cooked, and healthy addition to a meal. One cup of black beans offers 15 grams of fiber and protein. These beans also provide manganese, iron, vitamin B9, and magnesium.
Research published in Nutrients in 2015 analyzed the fiber and antioxidants in black beans and found that all participants had an increased metabolism after including the beans in their diet. Add this onto another 2014 study that concluded high-fiber foods are as effective as low-carb diets for weight loss, and you have a great meal option.